had drawn his head against her, and he had heard her heart
knocking strongly and surely under the curved ribs.
After the first shock of surprise, when he saw her standing
inside the door with one hand raised warningly. there was no
surprise. But they had never talked about themselves, or
their feelings. They had not been together very often. Now
and then they had sat before the fire in the living-room, in
the evening, with Mr. Christian, and perhaps Benton Todd,
engaged in a comfortable, desultory conversation until the
time when Benton Todd, looking at his watch, would remark,
" It's getting on, I better be going," and Mr, Christian, getting
to his feet and stretching his big arms upward, would say:
"Well, boy, I guess 111 be turning in. You folks, too, I
reckon?" And once she had gone out with them to hunt
quail. She had worn a red sweater and an old coat of her
father s, and he had watched her moving slowly through the
tall, sun-goldened sage grass behind the careful, eager setters.
They had scarcely ever been alone together.
But that particular afternoon she had brought him out from
town in her buggy. Waiting at the corner for Mr. Christian,
who was to come back to town the next morning and so could
bring him in, he had been surprised to see Lucille Christian
drive up. "Papa had some things to see about," she had
explained, " and he had to stay out at the place. So I came in
to do some errands." Then she had added, " And get you."
" That's fine," he had said, climbing into the buggy.
They had talked briskly and aimlessly while the buggy
moved down the streets of Bardsville. After the downtown
streets where the stores were, where people walked about,
quickly now, for the day was cold, there were the streets with
white, wooden houses set well back on lawns now brown,
behind the bare, black-tmnked maples. Those streets were
deserted, except for a few children, well muffled in coats and
stocking caps, who ran across the lawns and kicked the brown
fallen leaves and uttered shrill cries that had no meaning.
Otherwise, life seemed to have withdrawn deeply and secretly
within the houses. The window-panes gleamed dully like ice